Pull ups, Push ups and Dips:
I hate to break it to you, but you should not consider yourself anywhere near being strong, fit or in shape if you can’t do a pull up.
Thanks to the modern age of “all show – no go” fitness machines we’ve had at least a generation of trainers doing everything they can to avoid hitting the pull up bar. Pull downs, back machines, bands, on and on and on trying to “fix” a exercise that was never broke in the first place (granted these are still great exercises, but pull ups are the true test of strength).
With that behind us, many may start their fitness and strength training journey with the need to build strength and power in their pull up ability. Doing this will reap tremendous benefits – the more pull ups you do regularly, the better you will look and feel. Ninety days of pull ups will likely leave you looking like an action movie star or superhero.
Avoid Going To Failure
In building Pull Up strength and power, it’s been shown again and again that it’s best to avoid going to failure in sets. Always leave a rep or two in the bank. Do more sets while avoiding going to failure rather than blowing out all your energy on only one or two sets. Even though this may seem counter intuitive, this will quickly turn into huge jumps in strength. Olympic athletes swear by this method. Try it and you will too!
Pull With The Lats First
Pull with your back muscles first, NOT with your arms. Obviously with your lats being much larger muscles, they possess more power and endurance than your biceps. Use this to your advantage.
Keep Your Elbows Pointing Back And Down
This will aide you in firing your lats in the movement. Try to image elbowing someone behind you in their stomach.
Get Your Chin Over The Bar
There’s no need to go chest to the bar like some trainers claim. Anything much beyond your chin does little to add further to your back development. Instead consider your chin going over the bar as a good solid rep.
Lose Body Fat
Obviously this is a hard thing to do, but with the fitness tips here, it should be no problem. Having said this, the leaner you are, the better your pull up ability will become. Fat people don’t do many pull ups and pull up masters are very rarely (if ever) fat. When you set a goal of putting up massive numbers on the pull up bar, it’s good encouragement in the quest to also get lean. One drive compliments the other quite nicely!
Switch Up Your Grips
Okay, technically speaking pull ups are when your palms are facing you. Chin ups are when your palms are facing away from you. Neutral grips are when you are using a bar that allows your palms to be facing each other. Do a few sets of each when you train your upper body. This will help build your back from different angles and also do wonders for your grip strength!
There’s no better feeling than being able to hop up and grab the bar and pound out easy reps of pull ups. It’s a lost art, even the big and strong in bodybuilding gyms are usually unable to manage this. Put in smart and steady work and you’ll be leaving jaws open and fielding questions on how you built up your new found pull up power!
What can give you a solid hard chest, strong triceps, and ripped abs all while sky rocketing upper body power? And even bragging rights amongst friends? The answer is pushups and bodyweight dips, these two simple exercises offer all this and much more. If you had to choose only two exercises to perform this would be the first half (the second being pull ups of course!)
Exploring the Pushup
Used everywhere from the school yard, the gym, and the dojo. But also to the sand and dirt of special forces training camps. The push up is rightly beloved as one of the simplest and best exercises we could ever perform. Embrace it.
Here’s some pushup tips to keep in mind.
Always use Proper Pushup Form -> Many of us have picked up bad habits in the way we execute our pushups over the years. Here’s proper pushup form:
Keep yourself stiff and tight – including your abs.
- Elbows at a forty five degree angle at the sides of your body.
- Take a breath as you lower your chest to the floor.
- Exhale as you press up.
Engage your Mind while doing Pushups ->It’s helpful to visualize your palms exploding through the floor while doing your pushups as a means to building more explosive power.
Raise your Feet for a Upper Chest Emphasis -> Place your feet on a chair, bed or better yet a inflatable exercise ball to focus the emphasis of the pushup more on the upper chest and shoulders. This can help develop a more pleasing physique by most accounts.
Don’t be Frightened to go High Volume -> It’s not uncommon for body weight training enthusiasts to do 100, 250 or even 500 pushups every few days. This has proven to give fantastic results and is exactly the method used in modern military – and in prisons too – to build seriously hard and strong muscle!
After pushups our next powerful chest, triceps and in all truth total upper body builder is the dip. How we choose to do dips depends on our strength levels, conditioning, and what we have in our surroundings to perform our dips on.
Parallel Bar Dips -> These are the traditional dips that requires the most starting strength to begin training with. With your hands on two bars (or handles) you dip your entire body and press it back up using your upper body power. Many school yards have parallel bars to dip from allowing you to train for free in the sun while forging a mighty upper body.
Chair Dips -> Putting your hands on a chair behind your back while your legs are extended and heels resting on a second chair (your body should be roughly “L” shaped), this offers a much easier dip version for those who find full dips too difficult. If this is still hard, bend your legs and move them in, the further in the easier.
The Atlas Dip -> My personal favorite of the dips taken from the Golden Age strong man and physical culture guru Charles Atlas. Two chairs are placed in front of you about 20 inches apart depending on how wide your shoulders are. Place a hand on each chair seat while your body is extended behind you, feet on the floor. Perform pushups between the chairs. Atlas suggested way back in 1922 for his students to do at least 200 a day, working their way up to what he did – 500! This is a really superb exercise that many modern trainers aren’t aware of. It can be a game changer in building a great looking chest, shoulders, and triceps too! Try it and I think you will be impressed with your results.
With this information rejoice! A new chest is now right around the corner!
7 TIPS TO STAYING COOL & CALM before game:
Runaway, pre-game nervousness can come from a lot of different sources: how good your opponents are; how big and aggressive they are; how important a competition is; how big the crowd is (and who in it is watching you); whether you’ll play well today and win; how “excited” your coach may get; how much playing time you’ll get; the court, field or arena you’re playing in — the list goes on and on.
While there are many things about your competitions that can potentially make you nervous, the true cause of your performance-disrupting nervousness isn’t any of the things that I’ve just mentioned above. The real cause of your out-of-control nerves is you! That’s right! YOU make YOURSELF nervous!
What I’m saying here is very important — It’s not what’s happening around or outside of you that makes you nervous. It’s what’s happening INSIDE that is the real cause of stress!
Here’s what I mean: It’s not the size, skill level or reputation of your opponents that makes you nervous. It’s what you say to yourself about them in the days, hours and minutes leading up to the game, match or race that’s the real culprit in sending your heart rate and blood pressure through the roof! Nervousness is always caused by our inner response to the things that are going on outside of us. But here’s the good news about that: If YOU make yourself nervous, then YOU have the ability to change your inner response to calm yourself down under competitive pressure.
Most players who get too nervous to play well do so because of what they focus on and think about as the game approaches. They worry about how well they’ll play, how fast and skilled their opponents are, whether their team will win or lose, what people may think or say about them, etc. Focusing on any or all of these things will guarantee that your stress level will go through the attic and your play will get stuck in the cellar! To stay calm under pressure, you must learn to go into competitions with a completely different headset and focus. I’ve called this proper headset a “CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PLAN.”
A championship game plan is a series of little mental goals that you want to bring into the performance with you. If you follow this game plan, it will guarantee that you’ll stay calm and relaxed when you perform. Remember, playing your best when it counts the most is all about being loose right before and during your competitions.
#1. KEEP YOUR CONCENTRATION IN THE “NOW”
When athletes allow their focus of concentration to jump ahead to the future, or drift back to the past, the result is always an increase in their nervousness. If you want to stay cool and calm in the clutch, then you have to train yourself to keep your focus in the NOW — especially during your games, matches or races! This means that leading up to the performance, you don’t want to think about and focus on the upcoming competition and its importance. If you want to play loose and relaxed, you must learn to keep your concentration in the now. When you’re in the action, you want to focus on one present-moment play at a time.
#2. RECOGNIZE WHEN YOUR FOCUS “TIME TRAVELS” AND BRING YOURSELF BACK
It’s very easy to understand that you need to focus in the now, but much harder to consistently do it! The way that you stay in the now is by immediately becoming aware whenever your focus drifts back to the past or ahead to the future, then quickly return your concentration to the now. Losing your focus won’t make you nervous. What will make you nervous is losing your focus and not bringing it back right away! It’s the break in concentration that you don’t immediately catch that will drive your stress level through the roof and sabotage your play.
#3. KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON YOU, YOUR JOB AND YOUR PLAY
Allowing your focus to drift to anyone or anything other than you, (i.e. your opponents, who’s watching, who might be disappointed in you, how well your teammates may be playing, what the coach is thinking, etc.) will quickly make you feel nervous. Staying focused on you and your job will keep you calm and confident. This also means that whenever you perform, you want to make sure that you DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF WITH OTHERS! Comparison will always make you too nervous to play at your best.
#4. HAVE FUN
Performing your best under pressure means that you have to be having fun. Fun is the secret ingredient to staying calm and doing your best when the heat of competition is turned up high. If you make a game, match or race too important, if you put too much pressure on yourself, if you get too serious, then you’ll start getting nervous and your game will do a major disappearing act. When fun goes, so too will all of your game skills. If you really want to perform well, then you have to get into the game, enjoy the tournament, embrace the challenge from a tough opponent, have fun with your friends before, during and after the game!
#5. LEAVE YOUR GOALS AT HOME
One of the biggest tension-inducing mental mistakes that you can make as an athlete is to take your goals with you into the competition. For example, you think, “I want to go 3 for 4,” “pitch a shut-out,” “win this tournament,” “score a goal,” “break two minutes,” or “prove to the coaches that I’m good.” Focusing on such outcome goals will make you too nervous to play well and, ironically, cause you never to reach them. Instead, leave your goals at home and keep your focus in the action, on “this” play, shot, pitch or move, one moment at a time!
#6. KEEP YOUR MIND DISTRACTED BEFORE AND AFTER GAMES
Thinking gets most athletes into trouble and makes them nervous. While you can’t really stop yourself from thinking, you can purposely distract yourself from it. So, in the days and minutes leading up to a big performance or tournament, keep busy. Do not allow yourself a lot of free time to think. Focus on your homework, read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, get involved in non-sports related conversations with friends and do things to keep yourself busy and distracted. “Changing the channel” in this way will help you stay calm and composed in the days and hours leading up to your BIG performances.
#7. KEEP YOUR FOCUS OF CONCENTRATION AWAY FROM THE “UNCONTROLLABLES”
There are a lot of things that happen in your sport that you do not have direct control over. Any time an athlete focuses on an “uncontrollable” (UC), they will get really nervous, lose their confidence and play badly. So make a list of all of the things about this upcoming competition that you can’t directly control. For example, the officiating; the crowd; coaching decisions, (i.e. playing time); the future, such as the outcome of the game, how well you’ll play, winning or losing; how you are feeling that day; other people’s expectations; etc., and post the list in a highly visible place in your room. Keep in mind that these UCs are mental traps. They are lying in wait for you and every other athlete in that competition. The only way to avoid a trap is to know that it is there!